Frommer’s Guide To Fort Collins

Boise State’s opponent this weekend will be the Colorado State Rams.  The game will be played in Boise, so there’s no need to book a trip to Fort Collins.  But after the game, if you’ve got some free time, you might consider making Fort Collins a vacation destination.

The last time Boise State played Colorado State, I mentioned that there are parts of Fort Collins that look just like Disneyland.  And there’s a good reason for that.  One of the main Disney imagineers in the 1950’s had grown up in Fort Collins, and when it came time to design Disneyland’s Main Street USA, he decided to make it look like Fort Collins.

Here are some other attractions you’ll find near the CSU campus.

On East Mountain Avenue in Fort Collins, there’s a sculpture called “A Boy and His Dog”.  The sculpture is made from old car parts, and it doesn’t look so much like a boy walking a dog as it does the Terminator.  I’m talking about the first Terminator movie, when the Terminator’s outer skin has been burned off and he no longer looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The sculpture appears to be a stripped-down Terminator walking his equally stripped-down Terminator dog.

Speaking of dogs, another Fort Collins attraction is the Grave of the Railroad Dog.  It’s a lifesize bronze sculpture of a dog named Annie, who never really had an owner.  Annie lived at the Fort Collins railroad terminal, and took it upon herself to greet every arriving passenger there for 14 years.  When she died, they buried her next to the railroad tracks and took up a collection to create the statue.

On Remington Street in Fort Collins, in front of an old building that used to be a high school, there’s a twelve-foot Campbell’s Soup Can.  You probably have seen the famous paintings of Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol, and the giant soup can, which is tomato soup, by the way, is modeled after those paintings and actually signed by Andy Warhol.

Fort Collins has an interesting, if unconventional zoo.  It’s called the Swetsville Zoo, and its yearly budget for animal feed is zero.  It’s not so much a zoo as a menagerie, made up entirely of animal sculptures made from old car parts, just like the aforementioned boy and his dog.  Here’s how it works:  if you saw the boy and his dog sculpture and just couldn’t get enough of it, head for the Swetsville Zoo, where there are a few more animal sculptures.  160, in fact.  The best part is…admission is free.

You might be thinking, “I’m not that big a fan of public art projects.  Is there anything else worth seeing or doing in Fort Collins?”  In my opinion, yes there is.  My favorite food is pizza.  When I was a kid, it was spaghetti.  In my twenties and thirties, I loved pork chops.  But for the last decade or so, I’ve been quietly searching out the best pizza joints in every town I visit.

In Fort Collins, there’s a pizza place I have yet to visit, but it’s on my list because of its novelty theme.  You know the fifties diners that sprang up sometime back, like Jack Rabbit Slim’s in the movie “Pulp Fiction”?  Fort Collins doesn’t have a fifties diner.  But it does have Totally 80’s Pizza.

Upon entering, you might notice the collection of vintage 1980’s cereal boxes.  It includes most of the brands that were introduced and discontinued in the 80’s, like E.T. Flakes, but it also has things like the Wheaties box featuring Mary Lou Retton.

On another wall, you’ll find Han Solo in carbonite, from the end of The Empire Strikes Back and the beginning of Return of the Jedi.  There’s an entire room full of 1980’s toys like Teddy Ruxpin and Gobots, and there’s a guy with whom you can pose for pictures who is the spitting image of Michael Jackson, or at least the way he looked briefly in 1982 and 1983.

After that, you’ve probably seen all of Fort Collins, so gas up and drive one hour to the town of Golden, where you can take a tour of the Coors Brewery.  Because you know that line, “I wish they gave free samples”?  They don’t at the Denver mint, but they do at the Coors Brewery.

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